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Top 10 Signs a Divorce Is Imminent

Anna Khmara

Anna is a certified life transformation and relationship coach with an in-depth focus on positive psychology and transactional analysis. Using her 3+ years of experience, she helps her clients understand the essence of the problem, build self-esteem, establish healthy relationships, find harmony, and manifest their dreams into reality.

When people get married and make an oath to be together for better or worse, they rarely imagine their union could end, and they would be thinking about divorce. However, sometimes married life can be filled with challenges and problems that spouses are not ready to deal with. What's more, not everyone knows how to do it.

Some couples don’t turn a blind eye to relationship problems, try to find solutions, and move on together. Unfortunately, others get bogged down in quarrels and misunderstandings and see no other way out but to end their marriage.

Both these scenarios can be difficult and stressful. The good news is if spouses recognize the warning signs of divorce in advance, they can give each other a second chance.

Continue reading to find common signs divorce is imminent, get statistics on why most couples terminate their marriages and learn how to deal with these red flags.

Why Couples End Their Marriages: Statistics

Every marriage ends for a reason. However, these reasons may differ depending on which spouse you ask. In general, the answer lies in fundamental problems that can ruin almost any relationship. Sometimes everything is pretty trite: from lack of communication to trust issues after betrayal.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information researched the most common causes of divorce. The study involved 52 people (31 women and 21 men with 18 men and 18 women married to each other).

They participated in the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program before getting married but divorced over the next 14 years.

The research shows the main “contributors to divorce.” The data below is based on individual responses.

  • 75% of respondents indicated lack of commitment as the main reason for divorce;
  • 56.9% said that their marriage broke up because of cheating;
  • 57.7% reported their relationship being too high conflict;
  • 45.1% noted their marriage wasn’t strong enough because they married too young;
  • 36.7% stated that financial problems in the family led to divorce.

Other divorce reasons included substance abuse (34.6%), domestic violence (23.5%), health problems (18.2%), lack of support from family (17.3%), religious differences (13.3%), little or no premarital education (13.3%).

In their relationship, a couple may face at least one problem mentioned in the NCBI study. While some reasons for divorce, such as domestic violence and drug or alcohol addiction, are more dangerous than others, not all of them must necessarily lead to divorce.

If marital partners work together, they can cope with almost anything. However, since the lack of commitment is one of the main reasons for divorce, not everyone succeeds.

10 Signs of an Impending Divorce

Lack of love can be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about signs of divorce coming. However, “faded feelings” is a fairly general concept.

Relationships don’t only consist of love. They are also based on respect, mutual understanding, support, openness, etc. If any of these foundations crack, disharmony will come into the family.

If the spouses value their relationship and are ready to go through any crises together, they should pay attention to the early signs of divorce. Having analyzed the situation and plastered up the crack in your union before it turns into an abyss, you can get your healthy marriage back.

That’s why we’ve collected the 10 most common signs of impending divorce and explained them briefly. You can use this list to evaluate your marriage and understand where it is heading.

You Avoid Each Other

Think about how much time you spend with your spouse. If you notice that you are interacting less and no one is enjoying this time, it could signify bigger trouble ahead.

In such a situation, you can ask yourself, “Why do we spend so little time together?” Then, keep asking yourself why until you get to the truth. Sometimes the reason may be a banal lack of time.

But in other cases, this lack of time hides a desire to avoid interactions with a spouse. That’s where things become serious, as some reasons can trigger the unwillingness to spend time with a spouse.

It’s crucial to figure out what the problem is. One of the best ways to do it is to talk to your spouse or visit a marriage counselor.

Quarrels Have Become Too Frequent

Frequent quarrels are one of the clearest signs marriage is headed for divorce. If these quarrels are unfounded, the situation has reached a critical point. During such fights, partners may recall long-standing grudges, blame each other for all the troubles in their family, etc.

Do you quarrel over housework? If yes, how often? Various researches show that frequent fights over household responsibilities may indicate inevitable divorce. Indeed, according to Harvard Business School statistics, 25% of marriages break up because of chores.

Along with other relationship experts, Dr. Sharone Weltfreid, a licensed clinical psychologist and couples therapist, noticed this tendency.

Dr. Weltfreid says, “In my work with couples, one of the most common arguments is about the division of household chores. Typically, women [in relationships with men] are the ones to voice frustration regarding the allocation of household chores.”

Respect Has Gone

Mutual respect is one of the most important aspects of a married couple’s healthy relationship. If one partner feels constantly rejected while the other shows a condescending attitude, the marriage is in real trouble.

Such relationships harm both partners’ mental health and can be considered toxic. If you want to fix things and bring respect back into your family life, you can talk to a relationship expert or psychologist.

But if spouses let the situation grow, a lack of respect can turn into contempt against each other, which is a point of no return.

Unwillingness to Resolve Conflicts

A marriage can be destroyed by the inability or unwillingness of the spouses to resolve conflicts effectively.

Some couples ignore tense situations. They accumulate negativity, which sooner or later they will splash out. Others are not ready to look for compromises. Instead, they turn each conflict into a struggle, where one partner wins and the other one obeys.

Dr. John Gottman, who has been researching divorce causes and marriage stability for more than four decades, points to the importance of finding compromises in relationships.

He says, “Remember, you can only be influential if you accept influence. Compromise never feels perfect. Everyone gains something and everyone loses something. The important thing is feeling understood, respected, and honored in your dreams.”

Lack of Physical Intimacy

According to a General Social Survey, married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouses 58 times a year. That is a little more often than once a week.

At the same time, Denise A. Donnelly, Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University, notes that about 15% of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year.

Of course, not all sexless marriages lead to divorce. However, if neither side is interested in maintaining a sexual relationship, or one partner ignores physical intimacy, or spouses have different opinions on this matter, it is definitely one of the divorce warning signs.

Sex can also be considered a physical confirmation of emotional intimacy. Thus, the lack of it for a certain period may indicate problems on an emotional level. It can result in husband and wife divorce if they don’t solve the problem.

You Speak Differently

New research conducted by psychologists from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California states that spouses may change their vocabulary as early as three months before the breakup.

One spouse or both can start using words that are not typical for them. However, it is more common in those partners who subsequently initiate a divorce.

For example, partners may use prepositions, articles, and pronouns “I” and “we” more often. However, experts explain these vocabulary changes by deep feelings and reflections caused by marriage problems.

Changes in communication aren’t only about words but also about the format of conversation in general. If you see your partner is no longer interested in talking about things that are important to you, or they answer you indifferently, your marriage may be at risk.

Your Priorities Have Changed

Over time, our priorities, outlook on life, and plans for the future can change, and that’s okay. However, if you or your partner don’t want to seek common ground, it can be one of the signs you’re headed for divorce.

If spouses notice that careers, friends, hobbies, etc., become a priority and contribute less time to the marriage and family, they should raise this issue and discuss possible solutions.

Remember, this bad sign doesn’t necessarily mean the family is falling apart. Instead, it shows a problem that partners can still solve.

You Live Separate Lives

If you notice you and your partner are no longer each other’s go-to person, and you rarely share your emotions or experiences, your marriage may be in serious trouble.

Of course, in a happy family, spouses should have the same goals, but not necessarily plans for the evening. But if you don’t have either, or you feel you live as neighbors in the same house, you may ask yourself, “Is it time for a divorce?”

However, you shouldn’t rush to act immediately if your answer to this question is “yes.”

First, you should talk to your spouse and try to change your family life without violating the other’s personal boundaries. In critical situations, you can visit a mental health professional who can help you understand the problem and find suitable solutions.

Moreover, these specialists can help if there are children in the marriage since sometimes spouses drift apart once they have kids. It can happen if only one spouse is taking care of the children.

The other spouse focuses more on work or replaces the lack of attention with other things (new interests, hobbies, friends, activities, etc.).

You Think About Being Single or About New Relationships

Thinking about how your life would be without a spouse, whether with another partner or alone, is one of the critical signs a couple will divorce. Most often, these thoughts appear just before the breakup.

Quite often, people start preparing themselves for a new life without the other spouse in advance. For example, they go to a gym to get themselves in shape, take more care of their hair, buy new clothes, etc.

Women who took a break in their careers plan to return to work to be less financially dependent on their husbands. Men can start playing tennis or golf to build a new social network.

Nobody Wants to Change Anything

Almost any marriage can be repaired. But if both or at least one partner gives up and loses hope, little can be fixed. If spouses no longer want to adapt, change, and make efforts to solve problems in the relationship, divorce is inevitable.

Often it seems that the marriage has already outlived itself, and nothing can be done about it. Other times, partners are so tired and think living apart will make them happier than living together. In this case, breaking up may seem like the only way out of the situation.

What to Do When Divorce Is Imminent (Or If You Think It Is)

Happy marriages are not created in heaven, as they say, but by the spouses themselves. However, they don’t require any supernatural abilities. It’s enough to listen to each other and have a desire to maintain and develop marital relations.

Psychologists agree on five basic rules for a happy marriage:

  • Accept each other’s weaknesses and downsides;
  • Keep the unity but give each other some space;
  • Be mutually responsible for your family;
  • Take care of each other;
  • Maintain emotional and physical intimacy.

Of course, these rules are easier to follow when the spouses love each other. But what to do if you love your spouse but notice disturbing changes in your relationship? How to turn these end-of-marriage signs into a new beginning for your family?

First, you need to understand whether your marriage is worth saving. You can do it by answering three questions:

  • Do you see your future with your spouse?
  • Do you perceive your spouse as a partner, not just someone you depend on emotionally or financially?
  • Does your spouse show the same desire to save the marriage?

If you answer yes to all three questions, you can try to rebuild a healthy relationship with your spouse. The main thing is to identify the problem that bothers you or your spouse and discuss it.

Then, you can try marriage counseling or go to a family therapist. It can help you understand the situation better and find a solution that will satisfy everyone.

In a critical situation, when nerves are already at their limit, people may use ultimatums. It may happen because partners can be afraid of losing their better halves or don’t have experience in fixing family issues. However, ultimatums don’t solve the problems but rather exacerbate them.

Instead, you can talk to your spouse and try to be as honest about what you are afraid of as possible. Be open and listen to your partner. Replace criticizing with suggesting options. Moreover, remind yourself that your partner has feelings, desires, and emotions that you should not suppress.

However, if your relationship is destructive and toxic or physically and emotionally abusive, think about whether you should save this marriage at all. Perhaps, it’s the situation when divorce is the answer. If you are balancing your physical and mental health and the illusion of a happy family, you should choose yourself.


Divorce is neither good nor bad. It just happens. Any couple noticing some of the divorce signs mentioned above needs to decide whether ending their marriage is the only possible way out of the situation because most of these problems can be fixed.

Happily-ever-after takes a lot of work. However, spouses can change the situation even if divorce is imminent. The key is to find what causes routine in your relationship, remember why you fell in love with each other, create new memories, renew or form family traditions, and choose to be happy together.


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